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Coming up on Forum:
Journalist Jon Mooallem noticed that his young daughter was always surrounded by wild animals: butterflies on her pajamas, a stuffed toy owl, and beavers in her bedtime stories. But these romantic portrayals, he says, hid a harsh reality. Scientists estimate half of all species could be gone by the turn of the century. So he embarked on his own journey to track down three endangered animals, and discovered the extreme -- even futile -- lengths humans go to save them. Jon Mooallem discusses his book, "Wild Ones," and the complex intersections of man and nature.
A new edition of the most widely used psychiatric guide to mental disorders -- "The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" -- was released this past weekend in San Francisco at a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association. The manual has a big impact on public health, including what insurance companies will cover, the drugs that regulators will approve, and even which children will receive special education services. But critics say that the manual is outdated and question the validity of several new diagnoses.
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Travel writer Paul Theroux has taken his readers on adventures across Europe, India and the Middle East by railroad. His latest book, "The Last Train to Zona Verde," details his journey to the heart of Africa, the continent he knows and loves the best. He joins us in the studio.
From the ongoing investigation into a purported Benghazi cover-up, to the IRS targeting right-wing groups, to the Justice Department secretly collecting journalists' phone records, it has been a tough week for the White House. We review the week's news and assess the potential political fallout from the scandals.
As in his previous books, Michael Pollan argues in "Cooked" that relying on processed food disrupts our link to the natural world and weakens our interpersonal relationships. But this time he takes a more hands-on approach, doing apprenticeships with a variety of culinary masters who teach him the fine points of fermentation, the benefits of bacteria, and other secrets of honest cuisine. He joins us in the studio.
Between a nuclear Iran, climate change, and a rising China, the challenges to U.S national security are manifold. But in his new book, "Foreign Policy Begins at Home," Council on Foreign Relations president Richard Haass argues that the largest threats to this country come from within. With second-rate schools, a decrepit infrastructure, and growing debt, Haass writes, America should focus on improving itself.
UCSF physician and author Louise Aronson joins us in the studio to talk about her new story collection, "A History of the Present Illness." Set in San Francisco, the stories draw on her experience working with the sick and elderly in the city's hospitals and nursing homes.
Recent reports state that more than 400 steel rods securing the base of the new Bay Bridge's eastern span may be faulty, adding to concerns about the bridge's seismic safety and structural soundness. The Federal Highway Administration has launched an investigation, and a state senate committee held a hearing Tuesday to find out what went wrong. We discuss the latest developments.
On Tuesday, Governor Brown unveiled his latest revision to the state's 2014 budget. The new proposal accounts for shifting economic conditions and the multibillion-dollar increase in tax revenue seen over the past several months. We discuss the revision's impact on schools, health care coverage, job growth and state debt.
The great literary classics are more than merely important works of art, says author Kevin Smokler. Books that have stood the test of time should also provide insight into "how to live a great life." In his new book, "Practical Classics," Smokler advocates re-reading those oft-assigned tomes like "Candide," "Huckleberry Finn," and "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." We talk with Smokler, and we want to hear from you: what makes a book worthy of revisiting?
Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan unexpectedly resigned last week, citing medical reasons. His replacement as interim chief stepped down two days later. The turmoil in the department comes in the midst of two reports critical of Oakland police. One report from a court-ordered overseer finds OPD out of compliance with federally mandated reforms from a decade-old police brutality case. Another report, by law enforcement consultant William Bratton, is critical of the department's ability to reduce crime. Forum takes up these issues with the newly appointed Interim Police Chief Sean Whent and others.
In rebuilding our public schools, education policy expert David Kirp says we should stick to what works, like quality early-childhood education and creating word-rich curriculums. In other words, avoid getting carried away by quick fixes and the latest trends. His new book, "Improbable Scholars," tells the success story of Union City, New Jersey, and argues that all our public schools can benefit from what was learned there.
Pakistan's general election on May 11th marks the first successful transition from one democratically elected parliament to another in the nation's 66-year history. But with more than 100 people killed, the election run-up has been blighted by violence. In another sign of mounting tensions, Pakistan's Interior Ministry has ordered the expulsion of The New York Times bureau chief in Islamabad. We'll discuss the election, and what it signifies for Pakistan.